AASL releases two toolkits focused on advocacy during tough times

Contact: Melissa B. Jacobsen
AASL Communications Specialist
312-280-4381
mjones@ala.org

For Immediate Release
December 9, 2008

CHICAGO – The American Association of School Librarians (AASL) recently launched two new toolkits exclusively for school library media programs. The School Library Media Health & Wellness and Crisis Toolkits are designed to address the needs of and resources available to school library media specialists to build stakeholder support in their programs.

"Unless administrators know the essential and unique roles school library media programs have in student learning and 21st century skills, they will continue to be at the top of the list of programs to be cut. The School Library Media Health & Wellness and Crisis Toolkits are designed to help school library media specialists systematically educate decision makers and other stakeholders of the contributions their programs make to student learning," said Deb Logan, AASL Advocacy Committee chair.

The School Library Media Health & Wellness Toolkit outlines ways to build stakeholder support in school library media programs before program cuts become an issue. The toolkit offers advice on building support through program design, marketing and education within the various stakeholder communities—students, parents, teachers, administrators, community members and legislators. The Resources section of the toolkit lists other publications, Web sites and articles that focus on advocacy and make it easy for school library media specialists to gather the tools necessary to build messaging and support for their programs. The toolkit was built to support proactive efforts to keep school library media programs healthy and prevent cuts.

For school library media programs in danger of being reduced or cut, the Crisis Toolkit provides the steps necessary for school library media specialists to build meaningful messages and effective support for saving their programs. The toolkit offers information on educating and rallying stakeholders to speak out on behalf of school library media programs. It also provides additional Web and print resources, including sample letters to legislators. In tough economic times, it is important that all school library media specialists review these toolkits to make sure that they are building their support bases before it is too late.

"Leadership of school library advocacy is not a last-minute effort but something that develops over time. The School Library Media Health & Wellness and Advocacy Crisis toolkits provide targeted and easy-to-follow steps so school library media specialists can lead their school library advocacy plan. More importantly the information from these toolkits enables immediate action. Putting the School Library Media Health & Wellness Toolkit's suggestions into practice today may prevent school library media specialists from ever having to use the emergency-based Crisis Toolkit," said AASL President Ann M. Martin.

The School Library Media Health & Wellness and Crisis Toolkits will be introduced to attendees of the School Library Advocacy Institute on Friday, Jan. 23, during the ALA 2009 Midwinter Meetings & Exhibits. Attendees of the institute presented by Deborah Levitov, MS, will receive information, resources and strategies that will help define advocacy and facilitate the development of advocacy action plans for school library media programs. Prices for registration are AASL Member: $189; ALA Member: $229; and Non-Member: $279. Visit http://www.ala.org/midwinter for more information.

The American Association of School Librarians, www.aasl.org, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), promotes the improvement and extension of library media services in elementary and secondary schools as a means of strengthening the total education program. Its mission is to advocate excellence, facilitate change and develop leaders in the school library media field.